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Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs:
Caldwell

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[This information is from Vol. III, pp. 956-958 of Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs, edited by Cuyler Reynolds (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1911). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 929.1 R45. Some of the formatting of the original, especially in lists of descendants, may have been altered slightly for ease of reading.]

This name has been common for centuries in England, Scotland, Ireland and France. In Scotland, the Caldwells of Caldwell, Ayrshire, were prominent as early as 1349. They furnished at that date a chancellor to Scotland. In Scotch the name is derived from Cold-wold, the hazelwood or divining rod. In Patronymica Brittanica, the name is given as signifying cold-well. Armorial bearings of the family are wells, fountains, waves and fishes; each suggestive of water. In Doomsday Book the name is spelled Caldeunelle. Caldwells migrated from England, Ireland and Scotland to America, and established homes in New England, New Jersey and the south. The Caldwell family of Troy, New York, descend from Edward Henry Caldwell, of Manchester, Lancashire, England. He was born July 3, 1758, died June 12, 1802. He married and had a son, James Henry, who founded the family in the United States in 1814, settling in the south where he and his descendants attained unusual prominence and wealth.

(II) James Henry, son of Edward Henry Caldwell, was born in Manchester, Lancashire, England, May 10, 1793, died in New York City, in 1863. He came to the United States in 1814, and settled in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and January 7, 1820, removed to New Orleans, Louisiana. His first operations were in real estate and the improvement of a new section of the city, called the "south side." He built up with fine homes the greater part of that section, and many of the well known buildings in the older city, including the famous St. Charles Hotel, one of the most noted hostelries in the south before the civil war. He built the first theatre on the south side, and was at the head of a theatrical enterprise in that city, and the south and southwest. He owned the American Theatre which he built in 1822, and in 1824 it was lighted by gas, the first used in the city. He also built the National Theatre in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1825; the Cincinnati Theatre in 1832; the St. Charles Theatre in New Orleans in 1835, at that time the largest theatre in the United States; and in 1840 the Mobile Theatre. Encouraged by his success in lighting his own buildings with gas of his own manufacture, Mr. Caldwell organized in 1832 the New Orleans Gas Light Company, with a capital of three hundred thousand dollars. Failing to get any of the citizens to join him in the enterprise, he determined to light the city at his own expense which he accomplished in September, 1833. The charter gave the city the right to purchase the works at the end of forty years. This company later secured a new charter from the legislature, and as the Crescent City Company continued the illumination of the city streets with gas until 1887, when electricity was substituted. Mr. Caldwell is still spoken of in New Orleans as "the father of gas." When he acquired the first gas franchise in New Orleans, he was given a monopoly of lighting the city and the suburbs St. Mary (now the first district of the city) and Marigny (now the third district). The success of lighting the city so satisfactorily (New Orleans being one of the first cities to use gas for public lighting) induced him to ask for an enlarged charter, which was granted, and the Nev Orleans Gas Light Company was succeeded by the New Orleans Gas Light and Banking Company, with a capital of six million dollars. Under their charter the new company was required to establish five branch banks and gas companies in different sections of the state. This was done and banks located in Fort Hudson, Springfield, Napoleonville, Harrisonville and Alexandria. Later there was still further expansion, and the company became very strong and powerful, combining as it did gas companies, banks, loan institutions and improvement companies. Mr. Caldwell was president, and also became politically prominent. When the question of paving first arose in the city, he was strongly in favor of Belgian blocks against cobble stone and oyster shell paving. He succeeded in having a great deal of the block pavement laid along with the cheaper cobble stone and shell paving. The system he advocated was more expensive and was strongly opposed. His advocacy cost him his political position in the city, although time has justified his selection of material. Engineering reports many years later showed that it had proved the cheapest in the end to lay the Belgian blocks. He was a member of the Louisiana state legislature and held high political offices in the city for twenty-four years. He later was reinstated in public favor and councils voted him a silver pitcher as an acknowledgment that his position was the correct one on paving material. He afterward held gas franchises, and built from his own means and operated plants in the cities of Mobile, Alabama, Cincinnati, Ohio and Memphis, Tennessee. The gas making machinery for the earlier plants was all bought in England. He was a power in the business world of the south and accumulated a large fortune. He was a Democrat, and held his political preferment from that party. He married (first) Mrs. Wormsley, of Fredericksburg, Virginia, widow of a very prominent and influential man of that city. She bore him two children:

  1. William Shakspeare, see forward.
  2. Sophie, married Robert Dean. He married (second) 1836, Margaret, daughter of Henry Placide, of New Orleans. Children.
  3. James Henry Jr., born 1838, died 1870, at Mobile, Alabama; was a gentleman of large means and very charitable.
  4. Alice, died in infancy.
  5. Edward Holland, see forward.

(III) William Shakspeare, son of James Henry Caldwell, was born about 1826, died in Richmond, Virginia, 1874. He was a man of great wealth and benevolence. He was a devout Catholic, and under the guidance of Cardinal Gibbons established the home for the charitable Catholic order, "Little Sisters of the Poor," in Richmond. He married Eliza Breckenridge, of Louisville, Kentucky, of the prominent southern family of that name. Children:

  1. Mary Gwendolin, born in Richmond, Virginia, died 1909. She was a woman of great accomplishment, and gave largely of her fortune to the founding and endowing of the Catholic University of Washington, District of Columbia. She gave three hundred thousand dollars toward the erection of the first building, which in her memory bears her name, "The Mary Gwendolin Hall of Divinity." Her sister gave fifty thousand dollars to build and found the chapel known as "Caldwell Chapel," and as a mark of special favor and honor her marriage to Baron Von Zedwitz was celebrated therein. The Caldwell sisters, after finishing their education at Sacred Heart Convent, Manhattanville, New York City, lived much abroad. Mary Gwendolin was first engaged to Prince Murat, son of the King of Naples. Upon the Prince demanding in the ante-nuptial contract that one half of Miss Caldwell's fortune should be settled on him, she broke the engagement and publicly stated the reason. At that time it was stated that Miss Caldwell had made her will and made the Catholic University the chief beneficiary in the event of her dying without heirs. She later married the Marquis de Merinville. The marriage was quietly celebrated at the home of her then recently widowed sister, the Baroness Von Zedwitz, in Berlin, by Bishop Spaulding; Baroness Von Zedwitz was a resident of Peoria, Illinois, was the administrator of the Caldwell estate, and had been summoned to Germany on the death of Baron Von Zedwitz.
  2. Mary Eliza, married, in Caldwell Chapel, Washington, District of Columbia, Baron Von Zedwitz, of Germany. He was killed in a yachting accident in the Mediterranean.

(III) Edward Holland, son of James Henry and Margaret (Placide) Caldwell, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, January 8, 1844, died in New York City, October 5, 1872. He was associated with his father in the gas and banking companies. He was president of the Mobile Gas Light and Coke Company, and made his residence in Mobile. He was a man of large means and lived the life of a prosperous southern gentleman of ante-bellum days. The family were Catholics in religion, except Edward Holland Caldwell, who embraced the Protestant faith. He was a Democrat in politics, and was influential in that party, holding important office in the city of Mobile. He was prominent in the Masonic order in which he held the thirty-second degree of the Scottish Rite. He married, in Mobile, Caroline Amelia Shields, a native of that city. She survived her husband, and married (second) Santos Santiago Rubira, a prominent capitalist of Mobile. Children of Edward H. and Caroline Amelia (Shields) Caldwell:

  1. James Henry (3), see forward.
  2. Edward Shields, born January 1, 1867; a capitalist of Asheville, North Carolina, and an extensive traveler; married Louise Wood Moore.
  3. Sarah, married (first) Nathaniel Rutter, of New York City, banker, who died February, 1890, leaving a son, Edward Caldwell Rutter, born February, 1889; now a student at Yale, class of 1912. She married (second) 1902, Nathaniel C. Reynal, of New York City. Children: Nathalie, Jules and Amilie.

(IV) James Henry (2), eldest son of Edward Holland and Caroline Amelia (Shields) Caldwell, was born in Mobile, Alabama, March 21, 1865. He was educated in private schools in Maryland and New York City, and entered Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, of Troy, in 1882, where he was graduated B.S., class of 1886. For some years after graduating, he was the engineer (civil) of the Mobile Gas Light Company, Mobile, Alabama, and fifty-four years after James Henry Caldwell first lighted the streets of New Orleans with gas, his grandson, James Henry Caldwell, built and successfully put in operation the plant that first lighted the streets of Mobile with electricity. Prior to his graduation, Mr. Caldwell had been a resident of New York City, but the family had always spent their winters in the south. After leaving college, he removed to Mobile, which was his residence until 1888. He was associated with the family manufacturing interests, which were mainly gas, electric and public utility companies. He was successively vice-president and president of the Mobile Gas Light and Coke Company, and the Mobile Electric Light Company, both owned by the Caldwell estate. During the years 1887-88, Mr. Caldwell traveled extensively at home and abroad. In the latter year he became associated with the Ludlow Valve Manufacturing Company of Troy, New York, and removed his residence to that city. In 1892 he was elected vice-president of the company; in 1897 vice-president and general manager, and in 1909 became president. While his greater business interests are with the Ludlow Valve Manufacturing Company, he has close connection with various Troy institutions of importance, and holds a high official position. He was one of the organizers of the Troy Trust Company, which began business December 23, 1901, and has been president since its organization; trustee and member of the executive committee of Troy Savings Bank; director of National State Bank of Troy; Troy and Greenbush Railway Company; Trojan Laundry Company, and Tim & Company (Incorporated). He is president of the Rensselaer Hotel Company of Troy, which he was instrumental in building in 1904; Rensselaer Land & Improvement Company; Commercial Union Telephone Company; director of Troy Fireproofing Company, and other enterprises of lesser importance. He is not only the man of business, but is identified with the schools, churches and charities of Troy, and to these his time and business sagacity is freely and generously given. He is president and trustee of Troy Public Library; president and trustee of Samaritan Hospital; trustee of Day Home; trustee and member of executive committee of R. P. I., and a member and junior warden of St. Paul's Episcopal Church. His fraternity is Delta Phi; his clubs, The Troy, Pafraets Dael (of Troy), the Laureate Boat, the Engineers' and University, of New York City.

He married, in Troy, May 3, 1887, Marjery Josephine, daughter of John T. Christie, of Troy. Children:

  1. Marjery, finished her education at Briarcliff Manor, New York.
  2. John Christie, born June 10, 1893; educated at St. Mark's School, Southboro, Massachusetts.
  3. Carolyn.

Marjery Josephine (Christie) Caldwell is the only daughter of John T. Christie, and granddaughter of John and Margaret (Roberts) Christie, who came to the United States from Scotland in 1832 and settled in Troy, New York, later removing to New Jersey where they died, John in 1891, Margaret, his wife, in 1878. John T. Christie was born in Troy in 1853; he was educated in the public schools of Troy and at Troy Conference Seminary at Poultney, Vermont. He was engaged in the flour milling business at Bristol, Vermont, for two years, when, having had his mill destroyed by a flood, he settled in Troy. In 1865 he formed a partnership with Rev. S. Parks, and was for several years engaged in the insurance business as Parks & Christie. They were state agents for the Mutual Life Insurance Company of New York, and were exceedingly prosperous. Mr. Christie continued in the insurance business until 1883, when he disposed of his interest and purchased stock in the Ludlow Valve Manufacturing Company of Troy. In 1891, when that company was reorganized, he was elected president, continuing in that office until his retirement. He was a capable executive business man, and during his administration the company increased its capacity and doubled its business. He was succeeded in office by James H. Caldwell, under whose guidance the company, the largest valve and hydrant manufacturing company in the world, has continued its successful career. Mr. Christie is a Republican in politics, and a member of the Second Street Presbyterian Church. He married, March, 1858, Sophia McMillian. Their only daughter, Marjery Josephine, married James H. Caldwell.

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